Wynwood supporters want city to keep developers at bay
By Suzy Valentine
Zoning changes are needed in the Wynwood Art District to prevent big developers from forcing out trailblazers, says one of the largest investors in the area.
Tony Goldman, a real estate developer and art collector who opened Goldman Warehouse gallery Jan. 9, said that by imposing height restrictions in the area and ensuring that artists can get affordable housing, the district may avoid over-development similar to that in South Beach.
"We need to develop a cohesive plan between the galleries, the museums, collectors and artists," he said. "We need to coordinate."
Artists' rents could be subsidized on a 50-50 basis, Mr. Goldman said. "Some formulas can occur."
Wynwood/Edgewater, in the northwest quadrant of Miami, is bounded to the north by Interstate 195, to the east by Biscayne Boulevard, to the south by Interstate 395 and to the west by Interstate 95. The 2000 Census showed that 37.7% of Wynwood's 6,221 households, making up a population of 14,819, lived on $12,000 or less a year.
Parallels could be drawn between Wynwood and other parts of the county, said another developer and collector.
"When South Beach reached a point where it was difficult for people to be there, they migrated to the northeastern part, right off Biscayne Boulevard and Wynwood," said Dennis Scholl, who has rented space to artists in the art district for $1,500 a month.
Movement of artists into the area would ensure its improvement, said Mr. Goldman, but they could be forced out.
"I've seen the transition and the gentrification and what it actually does - how pure art scenes are in some ways tarnished and changed by the gentrification of the community," Mr. Goldman said.
"Part of that has to be where the arts community and the real estate community have to come together to at least agree on how we can not only create it but how to sustain it."
Miami architect Andres Duany of Duany Plater-Zyberk has identified three waves of gentrification - artists, romantic investors and institutional investors.
Mr. Goldman said he hopes development in Wynwood stops at the first wave.
"How can we guarantee that there's longevity to the creative mix between collections, art spaces, studios, live-work environments?" he said. "There must be commitment to affordable housing for artists within a neighborhood of this kind.
"There should be a discussion as to how that happens," he said. "Community-development corporations should rise out of the Wynwood Arts Association."
Artists have an eye for the next hot spot, said Mr. Scholl. "Talking of art and real estate, if you want to know where the next great urban center in Miami is going to be, just follow the artists," he said. "When my wife, Debra, and I began to invest in South Beach, the only people down there were artists and really sketchy people."
Part of the new district's appeal would come from its accessibility, said Mr. Goldman.
"Wynwood was an opportunity for my son and I to help enhance a neighborhood in the warehouse section as a place for new pedestrianism," he said, "a new place for pedestrian life. The great art scenes occur when you can walk between spaces.
"They need to be created in pockets. There needs to be 24/7 environment to create a really honest art scene.
"We were very successful in creating and stimulating pedestrianism in South Beach," said Mr. Goldman, a pioneer in redevelopment of the Art Deco District. "It's what's missing now in Miami in the pedestrian center. We've bought a critical mass of properties, strategically located to create that pedestrian life.
"Miami has become an urban center," he said. "It doesn't happen by itself unless it has the convergence of an international and sophisticated population."
He predicted that the county's art scene, now in ascendancy, would reach prominence between 2008 and 2010.
"I think you'll see something dramatic happening between three to five years," said Mr. Goldman. "I think you'll see pockets of growth probably every six months."